I was never into princesses and getting married but somehow my 3 and 4-year-old daughters are. The eldest is not just ‘into’ it, she’s obsessed with wedding dresses, rings and getting married with anyone and everyone. This was happening even before the excitement around the Royal Wedding between Harry and Meghan reached fever pitch. I thought I would share our take on the Royal Wedding and our own way of raising happy bilingual children.
Am I ‘bovvered’* with this wedding?
*In case you’re not familiar with this reference, here’s a treat for you:
So, the royal wedding is here. I’m a feminist, republican and never took much interest in royalty, princesses or weddings (our own wedding was a very – and I mean VERY – low key affair). I’m also trying to raise my children bilingual and bicultural, aware of their Portuguese roots.
Where does that leave us?
Well, I actually like Harry and Megan and I wish them endless happiness.
1. They are two human beings who look like they are very much in love.
2. Megan appears to be kind, humble and a humanitarian well before the possibility of becoming a princess was on the horizon. She’s a feminist like me – just someone concerned with equality – someone who, as a young girl, tried to change the status quo (see video below).
3. It’s a welcome breath of fresh air into the Royal Family and the media. Meghan has no royal blood, is biracial (as she describes herself in this interesting article written by Meghan for Elle in 2013), a strong woman who sounds genuine and fun, and appears to have her own sense of self, and her own way of doing things. My kinda girl!
4. My little girls care. They’re excited about it, and it’s integral to their British identity. Why should I spoil it for them?
A British Royal Wedding and raising bilingual children
Raising bilingual and multicultural children occupies a substantial portion of my waking hours.
However, as the primary childcarer, I also need to take care of my children’s education: their awareness of the world around them, cultural identity, academic performance in school, etc.
Just because I’m keen on them speaking and feeling Portuguese, doesn’t mean I want that to happen to the detriment of their own British identity. In fact, I always said that I want them to feel as Portuguese as they feel British.
My husband and I try to raise our girls to be confident girls, with a strong sense of self and awareness of both their Portuguese and British culture.
In our household, we celebrate difference.
I would like my girls to feel secure in their Portuguese heritage, but also feel at home in the UK. I certainly do not want them to feel like ‘outsiders’. This is their country without a shadow of a doubt. And I hope one day they feel the same way about Portugal. I certainly want them to retain their British identity and to cherish it. It’s not a competition between both cultures.
Our own way…
Truth be told, there’s only a given number of hours in the day and Portuguese and English do ‘compete’ for time. But I don’t want them to be rivals.
The most important thing to us is that our girls are happy.
And if that means that their Portuguese language and knowledge is not advanced at this age, it’s fine.
Because if they are happy and if they feel comfortable in their Portuguese heritage, whatever little I managed to pass on so far, I believe that they can catch up. It’s reassuring to know that a recent study found that children can become fluent in a language later than expected, and as can adults can (read the article here).
It’s an opportunity
Even though my husband and I are not the biggest fans of monarchy, we’re going to welcome the Royal Wedding on TV in our house. The girls will get dressed in their lovely ‘wedding’ dresses and we will take the opportunity to tell them about true love, equality, privilege and democracy as we see appropriate, as we always do.
If you are a stoic atheist republican, and your children are excited about the wedding, I say: enjoy this opportunity to celebrate love. Help your children integrate and remember that this is an opportunity to offer them other perspectives.